I think I’ve been avoiding writing this post for the same reasons I’ve always avoided making fried chicken from scratch – I’m afraid I’m not going to do it justice, or do it right. Seven Spoons has been one of my favourite blogs, if not my number one, for as long as I’ve known food blogs existed. I’ve been waiting for Tara’s book to be conceived, written and released for almost as long – and now it’s finally here, in glorious 3D, and for lack of a non-clich√©, even more beautiful than I imagined. Pardon the poor/harsh late-night kitchen/bedside lighting. I’ve loved cookbooks literally since I was a kid and hoarded stacks of them at my bedside, and Seven Spoons has everything I always crave in one. For years I’ve aspired to Tara’s focus and precision, her ability to slow down, to commit time to quality over quantity. Her style and her eye and her taste – everything she makes, I want to eat. TheContinue reading

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This.! The computer added that exclamation mark. Really. It’s very intuitive. Did today need a pot of chicken and dumplings simmering on the stove? Mine did. It was all I could do to keep myself from devouring the lot, standing at the stove, and the only deterrent was the risk of incinerating my tongue. It may have been worth it. I tried to take pictures. I mean I did, but I could barely focus. The steam was making me ravenous, like that cartoon steam that winds out of delicious things and swirls up your nose. I snapped a few, grabbed a fork and took the bowl to the couch for some alone time. Then I came back for a rendezvous with the pot. This feels like the sort of thing I should have grown up with, but it wasn’t. My childhood never knew a dumpling. These are the deal deal – sticky dough you drop by the spoonful onto the surface of the simmering stew,Continue reading

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Those of you who have spent some time here (thank you!) know that I am prone to making recipes just because I love their names. (Case in point: this is really just a cake, but don’t you just want to make it immediately?) I’m not sure what ‘bang bang’ means in this case; it’s not that I actually want to off the turkey. (Except maybe I do. Enough already.) I’m a (big) fan of the turkey sandwich, on homemade buttered bread with cranberry sauce, but by this time in the program any turkey I have lingering in my fridge or freezer I’d rather not resemble the original meal, thank you. Also, I’m about ready for a break from bread and cheese, and maybe a big, crunchy salad – so long as it’s one with personality, and dousing it in peanut sauce with a bit of a chili kick instead of dressing can’t hurt.

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I only have the photo I took of this soup with my phone – and not a great one at that. Even then it had already been pilfered, skimmed of its sliced mushrooms, which looked so nice floating on the surface, and of its green onions. There wasn’t much left but shredded chicken, torn cilantro and a few strips of red pepper, but still I have to share. (It’s far prettier here, my launching point, although not quite the same.) Mike looked up from his bowl and said, “you must be happy with this one.” I kind of love that it has no rice or noodles – no filler. Although you could certainly pile some into your bowl and ladle the soup overtop. My kitchen is humming slowly along.. I have an oven now, and countertops! But no backsplash, and there are issues with the fridge that prevent me from actually emptying things into it. But we have ice! I’ve never had ice in myContinue reading

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I’ve been cooking a lot of duck lately. It seems to be the new thing – and a good option when you want something special for Thanksgiving but don’t (for some crazy reason) want to cook an entire turkey. I love turkey leftovers, and so roasting a monsterous Big Bird is never a problem around here. Duck is a little different – it has thicker skin than a chicken or turkey, with a layer of fat underneath. The bonus here is that every duck comes with a free jar of duck fat, which will keep in your fridge indefinitely and make ethereal roasted potatoes or duck fat fries. The trick – to poke the skin with a bamboo skewer in a few places (without piercing the meat underneath – this is easy to do if you just pinch the skin and poke it through) to give the fat a few extra places to escape. Then start roasting the bird, pour off the rendered fat aboutContinue reading

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One thing I love about my job is that it pushes me out of my comfort zone in small ways… if it were up to me, I’d leave Chinese food to the pros (and Vietnamese food, and Thai) – part of what makes it taste so good is the not knowing what exactly went into it, the experience of making ginger beef / lemon chicken / mu shu pork night after night in well-seasoned woks and skillets. Who am I to pull off a proper batch of lemon chicken? We talked about citrus on CBC this morning, and with Chinese New Year coming up on Friday, I figured I’d give it a go. And really, the ingredients that go into this are not at all exotic – you need not even venture down the aisle of the grocery store that has coconut milk and rice noodles and other no longer particularly extraordinary ingredients. It’s is really no more than chicken and soy sauce and lemonContinue reading

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This cold has grabbed me by the collar and slammed me up against the wall. And yes, I’m resorting to chicken soup, spiked heavily with lime. Which comes in very handy considering how much stock I currently have in my freezer. In December I shot fifty soups for the next Soup Sisters cookbook, due out this fall via Appetite by Random House. Teams of other volunteers were rounded up to cook as I styled and shot, but while most of the excess was delivered to shelters, the short days meant a loss of light and many containers came home with me to be photographed in my kitchen. As you can imagine there was plenty of leftover soup hanging around my fridge. This one stood out – it’s simple and tasty – just chicken, onions and broth, no noodles to interrupt by slurplily splattering all over your chin, necessitating extra Kleenex. But really what I love is the crumbled feta and sliced avocado combined with theContinue reading

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Let me preface this by saying the above photo does not do this chicken justice. Also: I hope you don’t mind more photos of my PJ pants. ‘Tis the season for braising; short, grey and chilly days call for long, slow cooking. When so much time is spent puttering around at home, packing up decorations and weaning oneself off holiday chocolate, it’s the perfect time to slide a piece of meat into the oven and let it warm the house as it slowly cooks. Sure, you could put it into the slow cooker, but I love the dark stickiness you get from a pot, and the satisfaction of having it simmering in the oven while you pad around the house in your woolies. We made this on a day spent entirely in PJs. This chicken braised in milk with lemon, garlic, sage and cinnamon comes from Jamie Oliver – and if you look at his bird, it’s pretty gorgeous – dark and crisp and delicious-lookingContinue reading

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My friend and neighbour, Emily, has a single mint plant in front of her house that’s the size of a small shrubbery. She encourages me to grab handfuls of it if I’m ever walking by. Because she brought a few jars of beet preserves to me last week – pickled beets, beet relish and chutney – I pondered what I might make with mint that would go with the tangy beets, knowing she had the same plethora of mint and pickled beets at home too. And so I took a handful or two and whizzed it into a slurry with plain yogurt, the juice of a lemon (the zest would be great too), some ginger and spices; yogurt acts as a flavour carrier while tenderizing chicken – you can leave it in the fridge for a day to get to know each other, or freeze the lot – the marinade protects the chicken from freezer burn. Thread the chunks onto soaked bamboo skewers and theyContinue reading

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